Friday, December 30, 2011

Avignon, Palace of the Popes

From Nimes, we travelled to Avalon and it was drizzling when we arrived. We went on a walking tour of the old town. Our meeting point was at a colourful carousel near the Theatre and the Town Hall, or Hotel de Ville. You will find such Hotel de Ville in all the cities in France and they are not hotels in the Ville chain but all of them Town Halls of the cities.

After getting our bearings, we ventured to the Palace Square where the Palace of the Popes and the Cathedral is located. The Palace housed the Pope and the Vatican when they moved (temporarily) from Rome in the 14th Century.
The very spacious square.

The Papal Palace looks more like a fortress rather than a palace.

The Avignon Cathedral is more modest but has a Mother Mary statue that is taller than the Palace.

Unfortunately I did not go further behind to the garden that has a good view of the Rhone River and the famous incomplete bridge.

It was then back to the meeting point before we checked into our hotel.

After checking into the hotel (Ibis Avignon with typically small rooms) that lies near the railway station just outside the city walls, we walked back into the old town centre to have our dinner. It was bitterly cold with the strong wind. On our way we saw many children and adults in costumes.

More views of the city along the way to my dinner.

While waiting for my food, I watched the children and adults in costume in procession on the streets (together with a small band) and ended in front of the theatre before they marched off, presumably into the theatre for a performance. 

There were plenty of restaurants around that area serving the tourists all with various formules for under 20 euros. We went back to the hotel after our dinner braving the chilling wind once again.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Carcassonne and Nimes - Day 8

We had the best breakfast in our entire trip at the Radisson Blu in Toulouse. There were plenty of choices in the big breakfast spread but alas we have to leave and continue our journey to Carcassonne. This is the dreamlike medieval fortress city supposedly the setting for the fairy tale, Puss in Boots. The movie, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves was also partly shot here. It was raining when we arrived and this added to the dreamy atmosphere.

We entered the walled city through a drawbridge, passed some shops and made a beeline to the St. Nazarire Church to take refuge from the rain.

The interior of the church was rather dim but there are some pretty stained glass windows and sculptures.

Out in the open again admiring the many medieval shops.

Some houses have pretty balconies.

There is a chateau, the Chateau Comtal withing the city walls and this was Nottingham Castle in the movie, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.

I had my lunch in one of the arrow streets here.

A nice pose(r) on the way out.

Some parting shots before we made our way to Nimes.

Nimes is famous for its Roman antiquities. The first is the Maison Carree (Square House) right in the town which used to be a Roman temple and is now a museum.

We walked through the town along streets lined with shops

and we arrived at the square where the emblem of the city (a crocodile) is prominently displayed.

Beyond the square is the Arenes, the Roman amphitheatre that is one of the best preserved in the world.

We had an audio-aid guided tour of the arena, all eagerly listening to the heroics of Spartacus.

From Nimes, we continued onto Avignon.

Ronald Kowk